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A sociological perspective on measuring social norms by means of strategy method experiments

  • Heiko Rauhut


    (ETH Zurich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)

  • Fabian Winter

    (Max Planck Institute of Economics)

The measurement of social norms plays a pivotal role in many social sciences. While economists predominantly conduct experiments, sociologists rather employ (factorial) surveys. Both methods, however, suffer from distinct weaknesses. Experiments, on the one hand, often fall short in the measurement of more complex elements, such as the conditionality or the level of consensus of social norms. Surveys, on the other, lack the ability to measure actual behavior. This paper argues that the so-called "strategy method" compensates for these weaknesses by combining the observational characteristic of experiments with the conditionality of factorial surveys. We can demonstrate the applicability of the strategy method for the measure- ment of conditional bargaining norms in the case of ultimatum games. To substantiate our claim, we conduct a methodological experiment in which we compare results for the strategy ultimatum game with those from a "conventional" ultimatum game. The strategy method yields higher levels of normative compliance in terms of rejecting "unfair" offers. We conclude that the strategy method rather measures normative expectations whereas the "conventional" ultimatum game the willingness to sacrifice own profits to adhere to these expectations. Our results are consistent with previous comparative research between factorial surveys and observational data.

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Paper provided by Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena in its series Jena Economic Research Papers with number 2009-054.

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Date of creation: 06 Aug 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2009-054
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